In this province lamb is not generally ready until early summer, but somehow lamb means spring to me, perhaps because it’s so wonderful barbecued, and many people dig out the barbecue in spring.
In many cultures, lamb is also a traditional Easter dinner, and the quintessential spring vegetable, asparagus, is delicious with lamb.
Lamb is also delicious with fresh herbs, garlic and lemon and it’s during spring that we begin to enjoy the first young fresh herbs of the season, beginning with early chives and parsley, lemon balm, oregano and thyme.
Most good cooks have a herb garden, and they’ll be hungrily snipping the first green shoots now to add to their favourite dishes.
For annual herbs such as basil, now is a good time to plant a few seeds in a pot on the windowsill, ready to plant out as soon as the weather warms a little.
Coriander or cilantro is another herb that could be started indoors now, and it does not dry well, so if you don’t purchase it fresh from the produce market during the winter, you may be craving it.
On the other hand, if you need to refresh your parsley selection, it’s not easy to start it in a pot indoors because it doesn’t transplant well, with its long tap root. You’re better off to seed it directly where you want it to grow.
You don’t have to keep your herbs in a corner, you can also interplant them with flowers, as long as you’re not in the habit of spraying anything inedible on the flowers. Most herbs are very attractive, and the Mediterranean ones love our climate in the Okanagan.
Herbs are not only delicious with lamb, they elevate lots of common ingredients to another level of flavour, including salads and the lowly carrot.
The addition of herbs is a good way to reduce the amount of salt in your diet too.
If you enjoy Jude’s Kitchen each issue, perhaps you’ll enjoy my book by the same name. To reserve your copy go to www.judiesteeves.com and then pick it up at my book launch at the Wine Museum on Ellis Street, April 28, between 4 and 6 p.m.
Grilled Lamb Chops with Oregano
Herbs and barbecuing just seem to go together. Lamb and herbs just seem to go together. Greek cuisine and herbs just seem to go together.
6-8 lamb chops
4 cloves garlic
1/3 c. (75 ml) red wine
1 tbsp. (15 ml) fresh oregano
1 tsp. (5 ml) fresh thyme
1 tsp. (5 ml) rosemary
salt and fresh ground pepper
Trim fat from the lamb. Zest the lemon and chop the herbs.
Crush the garlic cloves and add the wine, juice from the lemon, chopped herbs, pepper and the zest from the lemon to a glass bowl which will hold the meat snugly. Whisk together.
Many recipes call for the addition of oils to ensure the marinade sticks to the meat. Add a tablespoonful of olive oil if your bowl is too wide, but in a tight bowl it’s not necessary. You could also use a sturdy plastic bag with a tight-fitting closure, but I’d still put it in a bowl, just in case.
Turn the meat about until it’s thoroughly coated with the marinade.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from marinade and place on an oiled, pre-heated barbecue grill, using pinchers to turn rather than a fork, which will pierce the meat and prematurely release juices.
Cover and cook, depending on the thickness, for about five minutes before turning to brown the other side.
Serves six to eight.
The flavour of this varies with how fresh the herbs are, and whether they’re added to fresh little carrots out of the garden, or the larger bulk carrots. The fresh herb flavours actually revive old carrots.
1 tbsp. (15ml) butter
3 green onions
2 tsp. (10 ml) fresh oregano
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) thyme
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) sugar
1 tbsp. (15 ml) white wine
2 tbsp. (30 ml) water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. (15 ml) fresh parsley
Scrub carrots and cut into 2-inch pieces. If they’re thick ones, cut in half lengthwise.
Melt butter in a hot frypan with a tight lid. Add carrots. Turn in the butter until they begin to brown. Add the green onions, herbs, sugar and wine. Mix together, cover tightly and reduce heat to low for 15-20 minutes until there’s very little liquid left and the carrots are tender.
Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving.